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Specialty Food Magazine

The only magazine in the trade dedicated to food and beverage, Specialty Food Magazine is published four times a year, with actionable news, trends, spotlights on retailer and producers, and much more in every issue. To view a digital version of the publication, launch the Digital Edition here.

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The GMO Debate: What Retailers and Suppliers Need to Know in 2014

The GMO Debate: What Retailers and Suppliers Need to Know in 2014

In the food dispute of the decade, one fact is clear: consumers are growing more aware—and wary—of genetically modified foods. Here, specialty retailers and producers across the country explain why you should craft your own GMO strategy for the sake of sales, trust, and transparency.

By Eva Meszaros

Three little letters have become the hot-button food issue of the decade. Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, have brought forth a surge of impassioned campaigns both for and against their presence in the nation’s food supply. Everyone has an opinion about it—even those who don’t quite understand it. And while conventional channels may still be a few years from being caught up in the heat of the debate, the topic is white hot in specialty foods.

Yet even with all this discussion and focus, there is much confusion around GMOs. It’s been just 20 years since genetically engineered crops first entered commercial production in the U.S., and their relative youth may be part of the challenge researchers face in calculating the full potential health impacts of GMOs. The politically charged battles that have risen as a result have fueled some of the claims around GMOs ... Continue Reading

Grilling With International Flair

Grilling With International Flair

Barbecued foods recall our primal ancestors’ discovery that raw meat cooked over an open fire can be transformed into succulent, edible morsels.

By Joanna Pruess

Barbecued foods recall our primal ancestors’ discovery that raw meat cooked over an open fire can be transformed into succulent, edible morsels. While the popularity of steaks and burgers endures, for customers who’d like something unique try international flavors such as vegetarian Middle Eastern black bean burgers or South African lamb kebabs. Or even explore alternative meats such as game birds like Mexican-style poussins.

Try the Recipes:


Joanna Pruess is a regular contributor to Specialty Food Magazine.

South African Lamb Sosaties/Kebabs

South African Lamb Sosaties/Kebabs

Kebabs, or sosaties, made with cubes of lamb and grilled, are among the most popular South African braai, or barbecue foods.

Learn more about South African cuisine. This recipe takes inspiration from typical Cape Malay curry spice mixtures combined with dried fruits for a tangy-sweet glaze. The meat may be marinated for much longer than the two hours suggested here. While these may be sold uncooked, advise customers to grill them within a day or two of purchase.

See other related recipes in Barbecuing With International Flair

Yield: 4 generous skewer portions
Prep time: 30 minutes, plus marinating time
Shelf life: 1 to 2 days, once marinated

Ingredients

½ cup strained apricot preserves
⅓ cup malt vinegar
⅓ cup water
2 tablespoons curry powder, mild or hot
2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1¼ pounds trimmed lamb stew meat
4 (10-inch) bamboo skewers
12 soft dried apricots (soak in hot water to soften, if needed)
1 large onion, cubed into 1-inch pieces

Method

  1. In a saucepan, combine the ... Continue Reading

Mexican Grilled Poussins with Avocado-Tomato Pico de Gallo

Mexican Grilled Poussins with Avocado-Tomato Pico de Gallo

Americans now recognize that exotic meats are often healthier and have fuller, more satisfying flavors. This recipe uses Mexican-style poussins, plump game birds that make a perfect summer entree. They’re so simple and quick to prepare and the avocado-tomato pico de gallo turns the meal into a fiesta. Serve hot or at room temperature, ideally with Mexican beer.

When barbecuing, consider other exotic meats as well, such as bison or buffalo, which are easily interchanged with beef and leaner; wild boar is like the sweetest pork you’ve ever tasted. One cooking note: when grilling meats with very little fat, like venison and ostrich, they should be done quickly to remain moist. They all take well to a grill and are typically free-range and organic.

See other related recipes in Barbecuing With International Flair

Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: about 40 minutes
Shelf life: meat, 1 to 2 days once cooked; salsa best in 1 day

Ingredients

For the birds:
4 poussins, backbone removed and flattened
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon each ground cumin, chile powder, and dried thyme
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne
1 recipe Avocado-Tomato Pico de ... Continue Reading

Middle Eastern Vegetarian Black Bean Burgers in Pita Pockets

Middle Eastern Vegetarian Black Bean Burgers in Pita Pockets

Grilled-hamburger lovers who have become vegetarian or are simply cutting back on meat will love these black bean burgers seasoned with citrusy, salty sumac and other spices.

They’re tucked inside a pita pocket with hummus, ajvar (an Eastern European roasted sweet pepper and eggplant mixture), lettuce, and tomatoes, and will surely appeal as a satisfying, healthful meal.

See other related recipes in Barbecuing With International Flair

Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes, plus 20 minutes grilling and assembly time
Shelf life: 1 day uncooked

Ingredients

1 (15 ½-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground sumac
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs
non-stick vegetable spray or a little oil
2 whole-wheat pita breads with pockets, halved and warmed
⅓ cup prepared hummus
⅓ cup prepared ajvar
4 medium romaine lettuce leaves
½ red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1 small tomato, thinly sliced

Method

  1. In a food processor, combine the black beans, onion, garlic, parsley, cumin, sumac, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Pulse ... Continue Reading

Chewing on Chia Seeds

Chewing on Chia Seeds

Chia is a Mayan word for “strength.” It’s also the name of tiny black or white seeds from a flowering plant in the mint family that have been making a strong showing in the superfood category.

Thousands of years ago, Mexican natives believed the seeds magically aided endurance and power, and used them in many foods. Today, the unprocessed, whole-grain seeds that swell in the stomach are being touted as a dietary aid to help people feel fuller for longer periods of time. Additionally, they are low in calories (about 140 for 2 tablespoons) and an excellent source of fiber, with a healthy dose of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, and antioxidants.

Try the Recipes:


Joanna Pruess is a regular contributor to Specialty Food Magazine.

Basil-Garlic Shrimp Kebabs

Basil-Garlic Shrimp Kebabs

These tasty bright green and red kebabs are loaded with pesto-like flavor but are dairy- and nut-free thanks to ground chia seeds replacing the parmesan and pinoli. Remember to soak the skewers and seeds for at least 20 minutes before using. 

See other related recipes in Chewing on Chia Seeds

Yield: 8 (10-inch) kebabs
Prep time: 25 minutes, plus 2 hours marinating and additional broiling time
Shelf life: 1 to 2 days uncooked; best eaten within 1 day when cooked

Ingredients

8 (10-inch) bamboo skewers
1½ tablespoons chia seeds
⅓ cup plus ¼ cup water, divided
1 ounce (2 cups) basil leaves, coarsely chopped
½ ounce (3 large) cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
40 extra-large cleaned shrimp (about 1 pound), tails removed
32 cherry tomatoes
1 onion, cut into 1-inch cubes

Method

  1. Soak the skewers in water to cover for at least 20 minutes or overnight. In a bowl, combine the chia seeds and the ⅓ cup of water and soak for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Once the seeds have softened, combine them in the jar of an electric blender with the remaining ¼ cup of water, basil, garlic, olive oil, salt, and black ... Continue Reading

Butternut Squash, Sugar Snap Pea, Red Pepper, and Tofu Medley with Chia Seed Vinaigrette

Butternut Squash, Sugar Snap Pea, Red Pepper, and Tofu Medley with Chia Seed Vinaigrette

Easy to make and full of flavor, this colorful vegetable medley can be enjoyed as an appetizer, side dish, or even light main when served atop udon noodles.

See other related recipes in Chewing on Chia Seeds

Yield: 4 (6-ounce) servings or 6 (4-ounce) servings
Prep time: 40 minutes
Shelf  life: best in 1 to 2 days

Ingredients

For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon chia seeds
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1½ teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
salt

For the vegetable medley:
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
8 ounces butternut squash, cut into ½-inch cubes
5 ounces sugar snap peas, blanched until crisp-tender
5 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into ¼-inch cubes
3 ounces diced red bell pepper
2 scallions, including green parts, thinly sliced, plus 1 sliced scallion for garnish
2 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

Method

  1. In a small bowl, combine the chia seeds and water; set aside for 20 to 30 minutes to soften. Once the seeds are soft, scrape them into the jar of an electric blender. Add the lime juice, rice vinegar, honey, ginger, and sesame oil. Puree until smooth. Season to taste ... Continue Reading

Creamy Lime-Coconut Chia Pudding with Tropical Fruit Salad

Creamy Lime-Coconut Chia Pudding with Tropical Fruit Salad

This creamy lime- and coconut-scented pudding takes very little effort and is completely dairy-free. Chia seeds swell to a tapioca-like consistency. It’s topped with a diced mango and pineapple accented with coconut and dried cherries.

See other related recipes in Chewing on Chia Seeds

Yield: 6 portions
Prep time: 40 minutes
Shelf life: at least 3 days for pudding; fruit topping best in 1 day

Ingredients

1½ cups canned coconut milk
½ cup white chia seeds
5 tablespoons agave nectar
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, divided, plus grated zest of 1 lime
6 ounces mango, diced
4 ounces pineapple, diced
3 tablespoons dried tart cherries
½ ounce flaked or shredded dried coconut
12 small mint or basil leaves, to garnish

Method

  1. In a medium bowl, stir the coconut milk, chia seeds, 4½ tablespoons of agave nectar, 3 tablespoons of the lime juice and the zest; soak for at least 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the mango, pineapple, dried cherries, coconut, the remaining tablespoon of lime juice, and the remaining ½ tablespoon of agave. Stir gently, cover, and refrigerate.
  3. To serve: Stir the pudding with a silicone scraper. Scoop ⅓ cup into each bowl. Spoon the ... Continue Reading

Robert Rothschild Farm

Robert Rothschild Farm

What began as a you-pick-’em raspberry farm has grown into a multimillion-dollar business with products sold in specialty stores around the world.

By Deborah Moss

Robert Rothschild Farm began in 1976 when Bob and Sara Rothschild moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Urbana, Ohio, to begin a family business on a 170-acre farm. The couple had been looking for a way to transition from their urban lives into a more rural lifestyle, when good friends from Urbana visited them in San Francisco. With that visit, the Rothschilds got just the push they needed to pursue their plan and they moved to the heart of the Ohio Corn Belt. After attending a convention in which Bob learned about heritage raspberries, he decided that was the crop they would grow.

Over the past three decades that business, then called Rothschild Berry Farm, has become a specialty food leader with more than 200 products sold in more than 5,000 stores. Along the way the company underwent ownership changes that helped grow it from a successful regional company to a nationally recognized brand.

The Early Years

When the Rothschilds began their farm, customers could pick their own raspberries (or strawberries ... Continue Reading

Favorite Baking Mixes

Favorite Baking Mixes

Gluten-free, allergy-friendly, and alternative-flour baking mixes are on the rise, while old standbys like cornbread and buttermilk biscuits remain steady favorites.

compiled by Nicole Potenza Denis

Lisette Campbell, Union Market, New York, NY

  • Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour
  • Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Flour
  • King Arthur All-Purpose Organic Flour
  • Sticky Fingers Bakeries Wild Blueberry Scone Mix
  • Stonewall Kitchen Farmhouse Pancake & Waffle Mix

Karen Gerbman, The Country Gourmet, Murfreesboro, TN

  • Country Home Creations Beer Bread Mix
  • Marilyn’s Gluten Free Gourmet Multi-Purpose Baking Mix
  • Southern City Flavors Jalapeño Cornbread Mix
  • Southern City Flavors Southern Biscuit Mix

Mike Devries, Metropolitan Market, Seattle, WA

  • Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Flour
  • King Arthur Organic All-Purpose Baking Mix
  • Namaste Foods Gluten-Free Spice Cake Mix
  • Stonewall Kitchen Chocolate Cupcake Mix
  • Stonewall Kitchen Chocolate Layer Cake Mix

Meredith Pirkle, Fleet Street Market, Baltimore, MD

  • Arrowhead Mills Multigrain Pancake and Waffle Mix
  • Dough Run Cinnamon Pancake Mix
  • Fiddler’s Green Farm Cornbread Mix
  • Pamela’s Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, Non-Dairy Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix

Sara Loring, Northville Market, Bantam, CT

  • Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour
  • Ghirardelli Brownie Mix
  • King Arthur Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Mix
  • Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend

Sean Asabell, Symons General Store, Petoskey, MI

The Flavorful World of Fruit Spreads

The Flavorful World of Fruit Spreads

New ingredients, unique flavor combinations, and an artisanal approach are propelling creativity and interest in this mature category, but some classics still reign supreme.

By Dina Cheney

The good news is that jams, including conserves and jellies, realized 10.3 percent sales growth between 2011 and 2013, according to the recently published “State of the Specialty Food Industry 2014” report, produced by the Specialty Food Association and Mintel. However, with unit sales remaining flat over that same time period, and some retailers reporting sales stagnation, all signs indicate that creativity and quality will drive future growth.

Scott Owen, grocery merchandiser at PCC Natural Markets in Seattle, says his store’s sales of jams have been flat year-over-year. “We suspect that is due in part to an increase in nut allergies,” Owen explains. Many kids aren’t allowed to bring sandwiches made with nut butters to school, he notes, which has impacted sales of grape and strawberry jam, classic childhood PB&J sandwich staples. The result is brands jostling for shelf space, by calling attention to unique features, from small-batch and local to healthful and novel.

Authenticity, Quality, and Origin Stand Out

Consumers are looking at labels, and not just for ... Continue Reading

Vermont’s Cheesemaking Visionaries

Vermont’s Cheesemaking Visionaries

An abundance of innovative, creative people, several key cheese organizations, and a huge consumer market nearby have helped this small state make an international name for its artisanal American cheeses.

By Janet Fletcher

Vermont will never lead the nation in quantity of cheese produced, but the state’s cheeses triumph in quality. The rural Green Mountain State has seen an impressive trajectory for cheese production in the 30 years since Allison Hooper and Bob Reese launched Vermont Butter & Cheese (now Vermont Creamery).

“It was a desert,” recalls Hooper of the state’s artisanal cheese scene in 1984. Hooper and Reese sold their first cheese the following year, joining longtime producers Cabot Creamery and Grafton Village Cheese and new producer Shelburne Farms. Thirteen years later, at the instigation of Hooper and Reese, the Vermont Cheese Council debuted with 12 charter members.

Today, the state counts roughly 65 cheesemakers, many of them considered among the nation’s finest, such as Jasper Hill Farm, Vermont Shepherd, Spring Brook Farm, and Vermont Creamery. And although many Vermont cheesemakers make too little product to consider venturing beyond the state, others have bigger ambitions. Retailers, especially on the East Coast, report strong consumer interest in both ... Continue Reading

Acme Smoked Fish Corporation

Acme Smoked Fish Corporation

Creating an age-old product that’s just hitting its mainstream stride, Acme knows smoked fish. A tour of its factory sheds light on this prosperous company’s humble beginnings, its commitment to high quality, and a taste of things still to come.

By Eva Meszaros

Acme Smoked Fish Corporation

30 Gem St., Brooklyn, NY 11222
718.383.8585
acmesmokedfish.com

Once deemed the smoked fish capital of the country, Brooklyn, N.Y., has seen a swiftly changing landscape in the past 50 years, from mid-century industrialization to modern-day gentrification. Some historic elements remain—among them, Acme Smoked Fish Corporation, which has grown to become one of the largest smoked-fish producers in the country. Its secret to success: steady evolution, a far-reaching commitment to quality, and embracing its roots and the community in which it resides.

Timeless Products for a Modern Market

Seafood consumption in the U.S. has been on a slight decline in recent years, but smoked fish is gaining, and Acme is helping to lead the charge. “The company has been growing at a rate of 8 percent over the past four years,” says Gabriel Viteri, Acme’s vice president of strategy and business development. And while the ... Continue Reading

Turning Cookie Houses Into Real Homes

Turning Cookie Houses Into Real Homes

In collaboration with the One Family organization,Dancing Deer Baking Company’s Sweet Home Project is helping to fight family homelessness and help single parents achieve economic independence in Boston.

By Denise Shoukas

The founders of Dancing Deer Baking Company knew their scratch-baked goods would make an impact on the specialty food scene in 1994. And they did. What they didn’t know at the time was that these products would become integral in helping homeless families in Boston through One Family, a local nonprofit organization.

Since its inception in 2001, Dancing Deer’s Sweet Home Project has contributed more than $250,000 by taking its most popular gift items and donating 35 percent of the retail revenue. Dancing Deer has opened the door for its customers and employees to help families in need—all while enjoying delicious baked goods.

The Concept… When Trish Karter, Suzanne Lombardi, and Ayla Antoniou, the trio that founded Dancing Deer in the Boston area in the 1990s, were searching for a focal point for their philanthropic efforts, they knew they wanted to keep it local. Karter became aware of One Family’s efforts in reducing homelessness, so she began a dialogue with other One ... Continue Reading

Baking for Social Change

Baking for Social Change

Hot Bread Kitchen, an East Harlem baking cooperative, began with a training program to create new careers for women from all over the world, and went on to launch a kitchen incubator program to help food companies throughout New York City.

By Denise Shoukas

Thanks to Jessamyn Rodriguez’s award-winning Hot Bread Kitchen, New York’s East Harlem has become a hotbed for baking and social change. Since its inception in 2008, 45 women have been trained at this nonprofit bakery founded to help foreign-born women break into the business. Some have stayed to work at the Hot Bread Kitchen bakery and storefront, which sells globally inspired breads, while others have secured positions at top bakeries and restaurants in Manhattan. Seeing a need to support even more entrepreneurs, especially minorities and immigrants, Rodriguez has spent the past several years expanding her organization with new programs—allowing her to realize her own dream of helping others, one loaf of bread at a time.

The Vision… Before starting Hot Bread Kitchen, Rodriguez spent much of her career working on immigration policy and social justice, but she also received a Master Baker certificate from The New School and was the first female baker ... Continue Reading

South African Cuisine

South African Cuisine

With culinary influences that range from local indigenous tribes to Dutch, French, German, Indian, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Portuguese immigrants, this country’s food is an eclectic crowd pleaser. Especially with South African barbecue, a national obsession.

By Joanna Pruess

South Africa’s cuisine is a rich stewpot of diverse cultures that have shaped the country’s complex history. Along with Zulu and other indigenous tribal foodways, foreign influences came into play when the Dutch settled the Cape of Good Hope as a trading post in 1652. That same year, Jan Van Riebeeck, who established the colony, planted the first grapevines. Today, the wines are celebrated around the world.

After several generations away from the Netherlands, the Dutch (along with German and French European settlers) in South Africa became known as Afrikaners. Many were uneducated farmers, or boers, who subsisted on a meat-heavy diet. Braai became the term used for the unofficial national obsession for barbecuing meat over an open fire. When the boers moved east and north away from Cape Town for political reasons, these pioneering farmers carried rustic provisions like biltong, or jerky, and the spicy sausages still enjoyed today.

With the arrival of the Portuguese, Malaysians, Indonesians, and ... Continue Reading

An Importing Adventure

An Importing Adventure

In 1993, Kitty Keller brought $6,000 of walnut, hazelnut, and olive oils from France to sample in the Bay Area. Today, KL Keller Foodways sells imported and original products across the country, sourced from prime regions and producers throughout Europe.

By Julie Besonen

Kitty Keller was feeling under the weather in Beaujolais. It was 1992 and she was traveling through France with a friend, lugging around Patricia Wells’ The Food Lover’s Guide to France. They had been eating very well, but Keller needed to rest for a day or two until she recovered. Her friend suggested doing something easy, taking a drive to a walnut oil producer mentioned in Wells’ book.

Two hours later down country roads, Keller could smell the roasting nuts. Her friend asked for a tour of the walnut oil factory, which turned out to be a small room with a granite mill, a mechanical press, and a pot that heated up the nuts to make a paste before extracting the oil.

“I’d always read about walnut oil but hadn’t found it anywhere,” Keller says. “It was fantastic.”

She became so enthralled she forgot she was sick. The sublime taste connected the dots ... Continue Reading

Cooking Sauces, Marinades, and Dressings

Cooking Sauces, Marinades, and Dressings

With steady growth since 2008, the category comprising cooking sauces, marinades, and dressings is expected keep up its trajectory, climbing from $7.4 billion in 2013 to $9.1 billion in 2018. Producers have the post-recession economy to thank, in which consumers seek affordable variety to spruce up home cooking, as well as broader cooking trends. Competition lies in consumers’ desire to dine out, and in convenient prepared foods that come with sauces or are already marinated. An optimistic outlook says this category shows plenty of room for growth.

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Mintel defines the market in three segments: dry sauces and rubs, such as dry meat/seafood seasoning mixes, dry sauce mixes, and other seasonings and spices, excluding salt and pepper; liquid sauce, including meat sauces/marinades/glazes (shelf-stable and refrigerated), refrigerated seasoning mixes, and barbecue sauce; and salad dressings: shelf-stable and refrigerated pourable salad dressings, dressing mixes, and shelf-stable coleslaw dressing. Not included: ethnic sauces, steak/Worcestershire sauces, and gravy.

THE MARKET

Key Points

  • This category has seen steady growth since 2008, a pattern that’s expected to continue through 2018, when it should reach $9.1 billion. Dry sauces lead all segments with an estimated ... Continue Reading

Beating the Odds

Beating the Odds

Growing up in Nepal and Mexico, Jonathan Milo Leal had an early indoctrination in international cuisine. Creative spirit and a business mindset have been his recipe for success.

By Nicole Potenza Denis

In retrospect, launching a company with wine-based pasta sauces was an ambitious endeavor, muses Jonathan Milo Leal, owner and founder of Athens, Ohio–based Milo’s Whole World Gourmet/Vino de Milo. Buyers told him over and over that the pasta sauce category was too crowded for anything new.

“If I could go back and start over,” says Leal, “I probably would have chosen a different category to get my feet wet.” But, fast-forward 15 years, and Leal has beaten the odds.

A Worldly Upbringing

A child of missionary parents, Leal spent his early years in a remote village of Nepal. From there, his family moved on to Mexico to continue their work.

“I’ve grown up in a family that is multicultural—my great grandparents were Mexican immigrants—and I was constantly exposed to lots of interesting foods. I think that plays a big part in who I am today and the chances I’m willing to take,” Leal says.

Though exposure to a multitude of cuisines ... Continue Reading

Gotham West Market

Gotham West Market

NYC’s newest food hall is bringing a compelling mix of chefs and vendors to create a destination in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen.

By Nicole Potenza Denis

Gotham West Market

600 11th Ave., New York, NY
212.582.7940
gothamwestmarket.com

From Seattle to Philly, food halls are becoming the next dining-centric destination topping the lists of hungry and curious consumers. New York City’s latest is Gotham West Market, a 15,000-square-foot marketplace showcasing eight premier artisanal food vendors, located in Manhattan’s Midtown West area—better known as Hell’s Kitchen.

With such nearby modern attractions as the 350-acre Hudson River Park and the U.S. Intrepid Museum, Gotham West Market sits on the ground floor of its namesake, Gotham West, a 1.3 million-square-foot luxury apartment complex. It attracts building tenants and a large lunch and after-work crowd from neighboring businesses. A buzzing nightlife during the week gives way to a weekend destination for tourists enjoying Hudson River Park. The building is the brainchild of real estate developers Gotham Organization.

Creating the Concept

“We wanted to develop an unmatched amenity that our tenants would enjoy but also wanted to create something special that people from ... Continue Reading

Adams Fairacre Farms

Adams Fairacre Farms

This mid–Hudson Valley, four-store chain prioritizes local producers, a neighborhood merchant approach, and store individuality—all under the watchful eyes of its family of owners for three generations.

By Denise Purcell

Adams Fairacre Farms

160 Old Post Road
Wappinger, NY 12590
845.632.9955
adamsfarms.com

In an area where the supermarket landscape primarily consists of big players like Price Chopper and ShopRite, Adams Fairacre Farms stands out as a family-owned, small, independent chain that has evolved with the times without forgetting its roots. From its beginnings as a roadside farm stand in the 1920s, the four-location business has built a reputation for keeping pace with a changing food scene and customer needs. Specialty Food Magazine recently visited the chain’s youngest addition in Wappinger, N.Y., to learn more about this Hudson Valley institution.

In Service to Its Customers

Earlier this year, Edible Hudson magazine named Adams Fairacre Farms a 2014 Local Hero, citing that since its inception “its growth has been in service to its customers,” from expansion to evolving product selection.

And expand and evolve it has. The original store in Poughkeepsie grew from a farm stand started by Ralph Adams to a retail shop in ... Continue Reading

Nazqiz Peruvian Snacks

Nazqiz Peruvian Snacks

How do I grow my traditional South American snack in the U.S. market?

by Denise Purcell and Susan Segrest

When Nazqiz Peruvian Snacks founder Ronald Flores was a senior at San Francisco State University, he began working on an idea to sell a traditional snack from his native Peru here in the U.S. Ultimately, with the support of one of his college professors, Flores started his company in 2013 and debuted Qancha, a corn snack, one year later at the Winter Fancy Food Show.

Flores describes Qancha, made with ancestral Peruvian heirloom corn, as a healthier, more sophisticated version of a Peruvian snack called cancha. “We have a proprietary cooking technique that helps retain the healthy properties of the special variety of corn we use,” he explains. “It retains the crunch without being hard like other corn snacks.”

Qancha is the first of many South American snacks Flores plans to bring to the U.S. market. “I come from a family of entrepreneurs,” he says, “so I have an innate passion for business. Living in San Francisco allowed me to develop a love for food and healthy eating. I also worked in the food business for 10 years ... Continue Reading

Sweet on Spreads

Sweet on Spreads

No surprise, peanut butter and jelly are the top sellers in the nut-based and sweet spread category, but there’s plenty of room for alternatives in this $3.9 billion segment. One thing is clear: focusing on healthier, more natural ingredients is the key to winning over the hearts of die-hard PB&J fans nationwide.

Download infographic

Consumers are going nuts for spreads—and not just creamy peanut butter and grape jelly. Joining these favorites are nut butters made from cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts and creative jams, jellies, and preserves—all helping the $3.9 billion category grow 34 percent from 2008 to 2013, despite a relatively flat sales period from 2008 to 2010.

Alternative spreads have a lot going for them. They have a better-for-you reputation but also offer decadent varieties like chocolate-hazelnut spreads, based on the popular import Nutella. And while strawberry and grape are most liked in the sweets segment, consumers are eager to see more exotic fruits like lychee and passion fruit. That said, the standards keep this category robust with 91 percent of households eating peanut butter and traditional jam, jellies, and preserves. Future growth will rely on product innovation, versatility, and reaching new audiences ... Continue Reading

Olive Branch & Grape Vine

Olive Branch & Grape Vine

Nurtured by its owner, this Ramsey, N.J., specialty oil shop introduces locals to an ancient Mediterranean culinary staple and other treats in a setting that is both interactive and inviting.

By Nicole Potenza Denis

Olive Branch & Grape Vine, a 1,200-square-foot specialty retailer in the heart of Ramsey, an affluent borough of Bergen County, N.J., offers more than 280 carefully curated specialty foods and food-related products. Without a doubt, the selection, which includes more than 30 varieties each of extra-virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars as well as other health-centric oils, is a reflection of its owner, Paul Karoyan.

The Inception… Five years ago, Karoyan, a foreign currency trader, was diagnosed with elevated cholesterol. When his doctor recommended statins, he felt there should be a more natural route that could lower it. Taking a closer look at his family history, he recalled something that had worked for his father.

“I remember my grandmother would always tell my dad, ‘Take two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and you will be fine.’ Even Dr. Oz at the time was talking up the benefits of olive oil—so I decided to give it a try,” says Karoyan.

After a few months ... Continue Reading

Silk Road Soda Company

Silk Road Soda Company

How do I keep momentum going for my Persian-inspired specialty drinks?

By Denise Purcell and Susan Segrest

Silk Road Soda Company was founded by Payam Fardanesh, an Iranian-American who moved to the U.S. when he was 10. For years he used the MBA he acquired at California State University, Sacramento working in software sales for Fortune 100 companies including Intuit and Oracle. Then, six years ago, he started a software consulting company, which he sold to Hill International. “The proceeds have been used to capitalize the Silk Road Soda project,” Fardanesh says. He began developing the product in 2012, and bottles went on sale in March 2013. Today, Silk Road Soda Company has more than 300 customers.

“We started with my grandma’s Persian recipe and created a drink that is a modern spin on one that was shared throughout the region. We added our own sparkle to the recipe, kept it organic, and used just enough pure cane sugar to stay true to its heritage,” Fardanesh explains. Current flavors are pomegranate mint, cucumber mint, and original mint, with a fourth soon to be released. “The sodas reflect regional flavors that are native to the Mediterranean and they have ... Continue Reading

Agata & Valentina

Agata & Valentina

The Greenwich Village outpost of this New York City specialty food leader caters to longtime residents, local workers, and nearby NYU students—all while keeping Italy at its heart.

By Esther Crain

Agata & Valentina

64 University Place
New York, NY 10003
212.452.0690
agatavalentina.com

The Sicilian-centric Agata & Valentina opened its Greenwich Village store in June 2012, the second location for the 21-year-old gourmet emporium that originated in the Upper East Side. Warm and rustic, the newer store features long, wide aisles showcasing top-quality produce, meats, fish, and cheese. Stations around the store offer a dizzying array of hot and cold prepared soups, sandwiches, pizza, salads, sushi, and gourmet entrees and sides made from family recipes—all cooked or prepped on-site.

“When we decided to open the downtown store, our goal was to combine the best Italian-inspired specialty foods with traditional grocery items, so we would be that one place local residents could rely on for all their food needs,” explains Valentina Musco, one-half of the store’s namesake and daughter of founders Agata (the other half) and Joe Musco. Her family’s passion for high-quality products along with personalized service has won the store a big fan base ... Continue Reading

How do you reduce waste in your store?

How do you reduce waste in your store?

From recycling and composting to thoughtful uses for products on the brink of sell-by expiration, these retailers share their tips and tricks for keeping food and packaging waste to a minimum.

Compiled and edited by Eva Meszaros

Joe Appel: We have always operated in a full-cycle system, starting with our perishable items on display for sale. We focus on absolute freshness, so when something on display begins to show signs of being less than perfect visually, we move that item to our production kitchen for use in our prepared foods, soups, sandwiches, et cetera. The very small number of items that end up being unusable, we compost. All of our retail locations and our production kitchen compost all food waste, though there’s not much of that.

Also, we use everything. We practice whole-animal butchery, receiving animals straight from the people who raised them. We use every last bit of the animals for retail sale, for use in our pate and sausage program and in prepared foods. Any fish we don’t sell goes into our fishcakes, which go for sale in our freezer. And so on. 

We control both quality and quantity by maintaining close partnerships with our producers ... Continue Reading

Politeness Counts in Reviews

Courteous customers can be a boon for business: According to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, online negative reviews of a product or a business that are offset by a politeness factor (e.g., “It’s great but...”) actually can help sell products and services and boost brand perception. In fact, when the negative review exuded graciousness, the brand being reviewed was perceived as more honest, cheerful, down-to-earth, and wholesome than the same review that was void of good manners. Best of all: consumers are willing to pay more when they read a review that was considered polite.—Denise Shoukas

More Trends & Happenings from the Summer 2014 issue of Specialty Food Magazine

Indulgent Veggies

Indulgent Veggies

Dairy, snacks, and desserts are not the first place one would look for a daily dose of vegetables. A slew of new products are looking to change that notion, giving healthful produce a whole new appeal. Numi Tea’s Savory Tea line, which includes varieties such as beet cabbage and carrot curry, hit the scene last summer; next came Blue Hill Farm’s vegetable yogurts, in flavors such as tomato, parsnip, and beet (a 2014 sofi Award finalist). Now ice cream is the new muse. Picking up on popular chefs’ usage of vegetables as a main ingredient in desserts, like golden beet sorbet at Detroit’s Bacco Ristorante and celery root panna cotta at Thally in Washington, D.C., Haagen-Dazs has introduced to the Japanese market Spoon Vege, an ice cream line featuring fruit and veggie combos, such as tomato cherry (made with tomato paste and cherry juice) and carrot orange (concentrated carrot juice plus orange juice, pulp, and peel). Ice cream has become a canvas for flavor experimentation among several artisanal producers, such as Coolhaus with its maple sweet potato “marshie,” Jacques Torres’ seasonal ice creams like sweet corn and cucumber mint, and carrot habanero pepper from Steve’s ... Continue Reading

Unexpected Costs

Meats, java, and a ubiquitous nut butter are among the top products—in terms of cost increases, that is. The food with the fastest-growing price in the U.S. is bacon, according to a list compiled by 24/7 Wall Street. And it’s not because of increasing demand: bacon was hit by the PED virus, killing off more than a million piglets since last spring and causing prices to increase by 53.3 percent in four years. Beef, which comes in second on the list, is the victim of extreme weather, while oranges, third, are under siege by disease and bugs. Coffee, chicken, and peanut butter made the list too.—D.S.

More Trends & Happenings from the Summer 2014 issue of Specialty Food Magazine

Sappy Sweetener

Sappy Sweetener

Demand for alternative sweeteners in the U.S. is expected to increase 3.3 percent annually through 2015, reaching $1.4 billion, with newer alternative sweeteners—like stevia and agave—seeing the fastest growth, according to market researcher Freedonia. That’s good news for newcomers like Villa de Patos Organic Sweet Maguey Sap—a raw, organic sweetener obtained by concentrating the organic sap from the maguey plant at room temperature, giving it enhanced nutritional value over other agave syrups. Maguey’s sap is rich in naturally occurring phytonutrients and prebiotic soluble fiber, which the company is touting for its many health benefits, from digestion aid to metabolism booster, says Mayra Ortiz, director of sales and marketing for Villa de Patos. Each spoonful of the made-in-Mexico product covers 14 percent of daily recommended fiber intake. “We take extra care sourcing raw material that is not only environmentally sustainable but also represents a source of income to marginalized communities in Mexico,” Ortiz adds.—D.S.

More Trends & Happenings from the Summer 2014 issue of Specialty Food Magazine

Don’t Cry Over Spilt Vodka

Don’t Cry Over Spilt Vodka

Especially when it’s made from milk. Packaged in the replica of an old-fashioned milk bottle, Milk Money Vodka, a new premium vodka from New Zealand sold through Leche Spirits in Roswell, N.M., is twice-distilled from milk, twice filtered and offers a smooth, full-bodied taste with a sweet finish, all for $19.99 a bottle. Milk Vodka currently is only available in New Mexico but the company plans to expand to other states in the next few months.—D.S.

More Trends & Happenings from the Summer 2014 issue of Specialty Food Magazine

Trace Value

Transparency about the origins and sustainable nature of food ranks high when consumers make purchases. So much so that the global food track-and-trace market is expected to reach $14.1 billion by 2020, averaging 9 percent growth annually, according to Allied Market Research. Traceability trumps cost, with consumers paying more for foods they believe were sustainably produced, like meats that are raised free-range and fair trade coffee and tea. Retailers are finding that labels on sustainable products, or those that were produced in environmentally friendly ways, are in high demand and a very effective way to engage shoppers. Giants like Whole Foods Market are meeting the needs with a new sustainability ratings system on all of its produce and flowers, rating them as “good,” “better,” or “best” in regard to how the products were grown, similar to its existing meat-labeling program.—D.S.

More Trends & Happenings from the Summer 2014 issue of Specialty Food Magazine

The Ebb and Flow of Food Trends

The Ebb and Flow of Food Trends

How do food trends get started?” is a question I’m often asked and up until now did not have a great answer for. But two recent and seemingly unconnected food events held in New York City have me mulling the topic.

The first event was a book launch held at the Jane Hotel for The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes and Fed Up with Fondue by author David Sax, who explores where food trends originate, how they spread, and why they fade. Sax offers a fascinating exploration of the disparate yet intertwined factors that launch food trends—from economic and pop culture to health and agriculture. While I do recall how “Sex and the City” helped propel the cupcake to megatrend and fashion-statement status by airing a scene set outside of Magnolia Bakery in New York’s West Village, I didn’t realize that bacon mania had its beginnings in the fast-food sector as a way to move pork belly.

The second event that had me thinking about trend makers was the Italian Trade Commission’s inaugural Brand Ambassador Award, presented at the Highline Ballroom earlier this month, honoring two industry notables—Mel Bomprezzi, vice president of ... Continue Reading

Solving Problems, Taking Names

Solving Problems, Taking Names

Very few business problems are unique. You may feel alone in whatever monumental issue you’re facing, but there are likely others staring down the same challenge, and others still who have successfully crossed that hurdle and are able to help.

A handful of experienced professionals make their living by advising companies in the market. If you are looking for someone to perform in-depth business analysis, engage in a long-term project, or produce specific deliverables, those can be effective avenues to pursue.

If you’re looking for general mentoring, or direction on a specific problem, a growing number of industry veterans are volunteering their time to advise others. They offer their advice because it feels good to share their experience and to give back to the industry.

As one accomplished specialty food producer explains, “We were fortunate to connect with a volunteer business adviser early in our development, and he was pivotal to our success. Now I see helping others as a way to pay it forward.”

Name the challenge—launching new products, sourcing ingredients, managing deductions, pricing products, or navigating the regulatory environment—there are resources to help provide insight and suggestions. In fact, you may be one of ... Continue Reading

All Hail the Food Hall

All Hail the Food Hall

Take a stroll through one of these all-star markets for a taste of New York City’s latest gastronomic obsession: the food hall. Though all give a nod to the great food emporiums of Europe and Tokyo, each of these thoughtfully curated collections of upscale artisanal food stalls, chef-driven restaurant counters, and specialty purveyors make for a one-of-a-kind culinary experience.

By Anneliese Klainbaum

All Good Things Market

Update (6/26): After Specialty Food Magazine's presstime, representatives of All Good Things, which was originally included as part of this article, announced the food hall and its component Le Restaurant were closing as of Sat., June 28.

Berg’n

A new venture led by Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg co-founders Eric Demby and Jonathan Butler, Berg’n opened this past spring in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood. Think of it as a Smorgasburg-inspired food court offering a few of the market’s top brands, like Asia Dog, Mighty Quinn’s, Pizza Moto, and Ramen Burger, but with expanded menus that will keep locals coming back for more. Plus beer.

The 9,000-square-foot space includes seating for more than 300, an outdoor courtyard, an event space, and a cafe serving local specialties from ... Continue Reading

The Specialty Food Shops of New York’s Hudson Valley

The Specialty Food Shops of New York’s Hudson Valley

Spanning 11 counties on both sides of the Hudson River from just north of New York City all the way to Albany, the Hudson Valley has a reputation for abundant farmland, small dairies, and artisanal producers creating everything from cheeses to condiments to granolas. Its specialty retail scene is equally rich with independent purveyors and country stores 
dotting the landscape. Here is a look at a few of these merchants.

By Denise Purcell

Bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy, Rhinebeck

Primarily a kitchen store offering cooking and bakeware, culinary tools, tabletop items, and small appliances, the 1,700-square-foot Bluecashew Kitchen Pharmacy offers a tiny but impressive selection of local and imported specialty foods.

Among best sellers, according to Sean Nutley, co-owner with Gregory Triana, are Fruition chocolates, a small-batch line made by Jacques Torres Chocolates alum Bryan Graham in New York’s Catskill Mountains (it’s the only bean-to-bar line made north of New York City, Nutley says) and a line of honeys sourced from Greece’s central Peloponnese region by The Olive Table, an importer based in Woodstock, Vt. The honeys are available in four varieties: fir of Vytina, pine, Reiki, and orange blossom. Nutley and Triana also have recently brought in ... Continue Reading

Coffee Creations

Coffee Creations

Gone are the days when most Americans reached into their cupboard for a can of freeze-dried grounds or jar of instant for a pick-me-up. Coffee has reached new heights in recent years, with international sourcing, surprising flavor combinations, eco-friendly ingredients, new brewing methods, and innovative packaging design. This newest batch of beans and brews comes from a variety of specialty companies, including established coffee producers and a few non-coffee companies who’ve recently entered the java game.

By Kara Mayer Robinson

Ajiri Tea Company Kenyan AA Coffee.

In its efforts to create lasting employment and education for women and orphans in Kenya, this tea company commits 100 percent of profits to its foundation that supports orphan students. Ajiri recently branched out into the coffee business with fresh-roasted Kenyan AA coffee. The coffee has rich burgundy undertones with notes of citrus and berry. The tea (and now, coffee) company boasts an exotic list of ingredients not only in its specialty teas and coffee, but also in the packaging: each label is made by hand using dried bark from banana trees in the region, with the help of 63 women employed by this philanthropic-minded company. ajiritea.com


Brooklyn Bean Roastery Two Rivers ... Continue Reading

Global Meal Starters

Global Meal Starters

Exploring new cuisines can be enticing to consumers, but also daunting. Enter these new international meal starters that seek to help home cooks prepare authentic, wholesome, and flavorful ethnic meals quickly and easily. Take customers on a trip around the world with the latest in simmer sauces, marinades, and seasoning mixtures—many made with fresh ingredients and no additives—whose origins lie in traditional flavor profiles or family recipes.

By Dina Cheney

American Halal Company Saffron Road World Cuisine Simmer Sauces.

The globe-trotting flavors of World Cuisine Simmer Sauces have grown in a new array of offerings: harissa, Thai red curry, Korean stir-fry, and Korma. Harissa features piri piri pepper with spices and herbs; Thai red curry combines lemongrass, galangal, ginger, and Kaffir lime; Korean stir fry contains pear, toasted sesame oil, and the gochugaru pepper; and Indo-Pakistani Korma blends coconut milk, yogurt, cardamom, and turmeric. Made with ingredients from small, sustainably run farms and no artificial preservatives or flavors, the gluten-free, halal-certified sauces come in single-use pouches. Easier to ship than bottles, they cut down on shipping fuel, reducing the company’s carbon footprint. saffronroadfood.com


Back to the Basiks Basiks at Home.

Anne Shomberg launched the Basiks at ... Continue Reading

Jerky’s Day in the Sun

Jerky’s Day in the Sun

It’s a new day for jerky—or ready-to-eat, shelf-stable strips of dried lean meat or fish, that is. Forget the highly processed sticks of the past, containing unidentifiable chopped or ground meat loaded with salt and sugar. Today’s jerky is made with beef, chicken, turkey, and salmon—often sustainably produced and hormone-free. Many producers hand-trim their meat and fish and flavor with innovative marinades and rubs, without the use of additives. The result is moist, tender, high-protein, lowfat snacks and meal replacers. Here are nine products to recently hit the market.

By Dina Cheney

Acme Smoked Fish Company Ruby Bay Smoked Alaskan Wild King Salmon Jerky.

The Ruby Bay brand has extended its smoked Alaskan wild king salmon jerky line by introducing individually packaged 0.6-ounce strips, all kosher and each with 9 grams of protein. Also in 1.25-ounce packages, varieties include teriyaki, peppered salmon, and the new orange ginger. All are hand-cut and smoked with alder and cherry wood. Along with jerky, Acme produces smoked salmon, specialty smoked fish, seafood salads, and herring through its four brands: Acme, Blue Hill Bay, Ruby Bay, and Great American. rubybayjerky.com


Alaska Cannery and Smokehouse Wild Salmon Jerky.

For ... Continue Reading

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